Tag Archives: mary halvorson

Mary Halvorson Festival @ Cornelia Street Jan 3 – 5


Three nights, three Halvorson bands (her celebrated trio with Ches Smith and John Hebert; the newish Reverse Blue with Tomas Fujiwara, Chris Speed, and Eivind Opsvik; and Thumb Screw, a collective featuring Fujiwara and Michael Formanek) – it’s a perfect way to absorb the intriguing string lingo that the Brooklyn guitarist has been refining for the past few years. Halvorson and her oft-changing collaborators have found personalized ways to make fractious lines show their sweet spots. There’s grace in everything she does – even when she’s storming the castle.

8:30 pm  $10  Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street. 

Forget 10, Here’s 20 (Best Jazz Albums of 2012)


1. Brad Mehldau Trio – Ode  (Nonesuch)

2. John Abercrombie –  Within A Song   (ECM)

3. Kris Davis – Aeriol Piano   (Clean Feed)

4. Ravi Coltrane – Spirit Fiction     (Blue Note)

5. Luciana Souza  – Duo III   (Sunnyside)

6. Paradoxical Frog – Union   (Clean Feed)

7. Ahmad Jamal  –  Blue Moon     (Jazz Village)

8. Billy Hart – All Our Reasons   (ECM)

9. Tim Berne – Snakeoil    (ECM)

10. Orrin Evans – Flip The Script     (Posi-Tone)

11. Ryan Truesdell – Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans  (ArtistShare)

12. David Virelles – Continuum  (Pi) 

13. Vijay Iyer Trio – Accelerando (ACT)

14. Neneh Cherry & The Thing – The Cherry Thing  (Smalltown Supersound)

15. Mary Halvorson – Bending Bridges   (Firehouse 12) 

16. Masabumi Kikuchi – Sunrise  (ECM)

17. Jon Irabagon’s Outright!  – Unhinged  (Irabbagast)

18. Darius Jones Quartet – Book of Mae’Bull  (AUM Fidelity)

19. Steve Lehman Trio – Dialect Florescent (Pi)

20. Frank Kimbrough Trio – Live At Kitano (Palmetto)

Don’t go thinking this list in any hierarchical order – Brad’s not top and Frank’s not bottom. 




Tom Rainey Trio @ Cornelia St TONIGHT

It’s hard not to get a kick out of Camino Cielo Echo, drummer Rainey‘s latest and a disc that makes crossed swords generate the clangs of camaraderie. Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and guitarist Mary Halvorson have found ways to interact that give dissonance and wobble a certain exactitude – I think it’s called rapport. Their collective agility can be amazing, especially when you remember than much of the action is composed on the fly.
8:30 pm  $10  Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street.   image212-989-9319   

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up “The Air Is Different” (482 Music)

Brooklyn has been a hotbed of creative jazz for the last several years, and it shows no sign of abating. To wit: the raucous yet architectural music of drummer Tomas Fujiwara. On The Air is Different his Hook Up quintet demonstrates its scope with a program that allows a swirl of singular motifs to have their say while still presenting a unified statement. At various points saxophonist Brian Settles growls, trumpeter Jonathan Findlayson coos, and guitarist Mary Halvorson screeches; the cagey rhythm section of bassist Trevor Dunn and the bandleader give these disparate textures a solidifying glide. Elements of swing have as much say as elements of rock, and Fujiwara’s compositions are eloquent, whether they’re musing poignantly, as they do on “For Ours,” or celebrating agitation, as they do on “Double Lake, Defined.”

Breadth is something Fujiwara is truly invested in. In the liner note he quotes Fela about rhythm’s responsibilities, and reveals inspirational sources that include Bjork, a Buddhist bell-bowl, and first 16 bars of Talib Kweli’s rhyme on Black Star’s “Definition.” The curves that mark “Smoke-Breathing Lights” – a piece about the way different people walk – is a microcosm of the program. In the middle of a 10-minute suite (of sorts) there’s an exchange between Halvorson and Settles that gives each a chance to move from stormy to sublime. Something similar happens on the title track, dedicated to Fujiwara’s grandfather, a Buddhist priest. It begins with a march feel, makes room for a knotty passage, and harks to Coltrane’s Interstellar Space with a romp between Settles and the drummer. Agility is a prerequisite for this outfit, and as the music morphs, a thesis starts to float between the passages: life’s contours are many, and you’d best be prepared for what’s around the corner.   

One Night Only: The West Village Wobble

Here’s how it should go for jazz heads in the NYC vicinity tonight. Starting at 6:30 pm and allowing for one dash to 27 & and Lex, all the action is in the left hand side of lower Manhattan. Your evening should conclude at 12:30 am.

1. JD Allen @ Le Poisson Rouge. 6:30

Dude celebrates his new disc with an early show.

2. Roy Haynes @ Jazz Standard.  7:30 pm

Dude still brims with invention, trouncing many more youthful drummers when it comes to creativity.

3. Paul Motian @ the Village Vanguard.  9 pm

Dude cracks the code of the Modern Jazz Quartet, nudges Craig Taborn to the foreground.

4. Todd Sickafoose & Mary Halvorson @ Le Poisson Rouge.  10 pm/11:15 pm

Dude behind Search & Restore curates sweet double bill that places the Tiny Resistors next to Ms. Halvorson’s ultra-elastic threesome.

Halvorson, Walter, Evans: Fruit Salad

Free improvisation can use a laugh now and again. Last time drummer Weasel Walter and guitarist Mary Halvorson recorded together, they called their duet disc Opulence, and titled their squalls in a direction that celebrated the good life. “Faberge Eggs Filled With Caviar” and “A Diamond Encrusted Frisbee” were typical tracks, but by the time “Bald Eagle Tartar Washed Down With a Cup of Melted Gold” rolled around, the silliness at hand was revealed. Comprised of choppy string storms, chattering percussion tsunamis and disorienting dissonance, the music wasn’t built for kings and queens. It did provide a nice jab in the eye for the occasional haughtiness of “art,” however.

One of the attractions of their follow up – this time with trumpeter Peter Evans on board – is the unpretentious way it presents itself. Yes, the abstractions they concoct on Electric Fruit have a rich atmosphere. Halvorson’s strings can be wonderfully gooey, Evans’ horn sprays can fill up plenty of space, and the Wease’s addled thumpery is a giddy environment at all times. But there’s a disarming it-is-what-it-is tone to this music, and it attracts listeners to the sharp turns of the trio’s interplay. Whether whispering to each other or wailing together, these three walk off the edge of a cliff so we can sit on the edge of our seats.

The landscape is always in flux. The drummer has a yen for death metal, so aggression is part of the palette. The trumpeter is expert at post-bop filigree, so fanfare is in the mix as well. Halvorson, whose comparatively straight Saturn Sings was applauded by lots of jazz critics last year, roams her instrument’s neck, generating a parade of textures; psychedelic fuzz might be followed by the gentlest of plinks. “The Stench of Cyber-Durian” puts variants of each to use, and like “Scuppernong Malfunction,” it reminds that, in this throttling program, all the action takes place in the synapses. Let’s hear it for kinetics.

John Hébert Solo: N’awlins Hits Courtelyou

First time I heard John Hébert was a Joe Fiedler gig at the Jazz Gallery. The trombonist has a precise trio – check the new Sacred Chrome Orb (Yellow Sound) or his older stuff for proof – and the bassist provided some wonderfully supple maneuvers to keep things on point. Hébert, a dude with Bayou roots, doesn’t just play with Fiedler. He’s one of the most ubiquitous cats around, gigging with a wealth of artists that stretches from Mary Halvorson to Russ Lossing to Ingrid Laubrock to Fred Hersch. Perhaps you haven’t heard his rather persuasive discs, Byzantine Monkey and Spiritual Lover. Try to rectify that, because the way he does business is unique.

From that first night at the Gallery on, I wanted to hear him play solo. I came up under the spell of Fred Hopkins‘ slippery side, and respect the hell out chopsmeisters such as Christian McBride. Something about Hébert conjures a combo of each; he’s a dude who knows how to bend ideas and still have their cogency resound. And as luck would have it, he’s performing alone at one of the city’s most intimate spots this evening. So it’s Sycamore at 8 pm for anyone who wants to hear a rather rare presentation.

Mary Smiles, Saturn Sings

They may seem thorny, but the intersecting lines Mary Halvorson uses to build her pieces are as sound as they are elaborate – this former student of Anthony Braxton and Joe Morris has a knack for innovative architecture, and each tune is a nest of ideas. On the new Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12) the guitarist augments those lines with horns played by Jon Irabagon and Jonathan Finlayson, and comes away with an alluring program that doesn’t mind scratching its way toward eloquence. Best of all, its oddity sounds natural. That’s pretty much the definition of unique, no? Check the shards flying around “Mile High Like” to discover how freedom can be harnessed without being haltered. She and the quintet (bassist John Hebert and drummer Ches Smith are the heartbeat) are playing at Barbes on Thursday night with the brass ‘n’ reeds. Who’s up for a set of provocative puzzles? Here’s the link to a Roulette hit by the fivesome.


My DownBeat review